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Overview: Effects of Meth Withdrawal

Methamphetamine is a dangerous and addictive drug. If someone uses meth enough to develop an addiction, he or she will experience withdrawal symptoms without the drug. Although meth is not directly physically dangerous, the side effects it triggers can be.

Dangers & Risks of Meth Withdrawal

Using or abusing a dangerous drug is risky, but stopping the use of the drug can also be dangerous. Although it’s beneficial to end a meth addiction, the withdrawal period is unpleasant and can create problems of its own. Meth withdrawal is not considered fatal, but if symptoms of withdrawal are bad enough a person can die during the process.

Some of the most frequently asked questions about meth withdrawal include:

Can Meth Withdrawal Be Dangerous?

Withdrawal from crystal meth is most likely not potentially physically damaging unless the individual becomes extremely emotionally unstable and engages in self-harm.

Can Meth Withdrawal Cause Death?

Not directly, but fatal side effects are possible.

Can Meth Withdrawal Cause Dizziness?

It’s a normal symptom and will fade with time.

Can Meth Withdrawal Cause Hallucinations?

Hallucinations are one of the most common symptoms of meth withdrawal.

Can Meth Withdrawals Cause Seizures?

Although rare, seizures are possible with meth withdrawal.

If you or a loved one is addicted to meth, it’s important to seek guidance from a medical professional during the withdrawal phase to help prevent deadly seizures from occurring.  

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Symptoms of Meth Withdrawal

Many of the symptoms a person experiences during meth withdrawal are similar to those that occur when withdrawing from any drug. Meth withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Difficult-to-treat depression
  • A decrease in appetite or increase that leads to weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness and pain
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness and agitation
  • Insomnia and difficulty maintaining a normal sleeping pattern
  • Unpleasant dreams
  • Psychosis that appears to be schizophrenia
  • Paranoia
  • Extreme cravings for meth
  • Dehydration-related headaches

The depression that arises for many going through meth withdrawal can trigger suicidal thoughts and tendencies. Meth is a stimulant and when a person stops using it, the opposite effect occurs. This is one of the primary concerns of withdrawal. The feelings of hopelessness that arise during withdrawal also tend to increase a person’s risk of relapse. 

Anyone going through meth withdrawal should be carefully monitored for mood changes and receive immediate medical attention if thoughts of suicide arise.

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Timeline of Meth Withdrawal Symptoms

Meth withdrawal symptoms follow a timeline that begins almost immediately after the effects of a person’s last dose wear off. For example:

Crash Period/High Initial Peak/Acute Phase

This is the first phase of meth withdrawal and occurs within the first 7 to 10 days from the last use of the drug. Symptoms of this phase include:

  • Decline in energy
  • Decline in cognitive function
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Mild cravings

After about a week, additional symptoms set in, including:

  • Intensified cravings
  • Depression
  • Hopelessness
  • Poor concentration
  • Headaches
  • Weight gain

The follows a the final portion of the acute phase, which includes symptoms, such as: 

  • High-intensity cravings
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • High risk of relapse

This period can last up to 10 weeks.

Subacute Phase

This second phase of meth withdrawal is when symptoms begin to noticeably improve. A person’s cravings fade, their sleep patterns normalize, and their mood settles. There is still a risk of relapse, but with consistent support, a person who makes it to this phase has a much better chance of recovery. This phase lasts approximately two weeks beyond the first 7 to 10 days of recovery.

Detoxing From Methamphetamine

The detoxification process is challenging with a meth addiction, but it is possible to recover from the addiction. 

A medically supervised detox program followed by rehab is the best option for most people with a meth addiction.

Detox is the first phase of recovery and it occurs in the following steps:

Evaluation

When someone enters detox for meth addiction, doctors evaluate his or her physical and mental condition. After immediate issues are addressed, the detoxification process begins.

Medications

Certain medications are known to support successful recovery from meth addiction. One of the most promising drugs is Naltrexone. Originally used to treat alcoholism, research has shown Naltrexone significantly decreased cravings for methamphetamine during detox but it is not yet FDA approved to treat methamphetamine addiction.

Stabilizing

Detox continues until meth is out of the person’s system. His or her overall health is re-evaluated and addressed. One of the most important aspects of this phase is determining if a person has any co-occurring conditions. If so, treating these simultaneously is a must during the recovery process.

Further Treatment

After detox is complete and withdrawal symptoms subside, formal counseling begins. The purpose of therapy is to help the person with the addiction determine the underlying causes of the addiction. It also teaches the person to identify triggers for drug use and learn to manage those triggers effectively.

In addition to therapy, people with a meth addiction also benefit from other forms of counseling and support. For example, 12-step programs or similar long-term peer group support is effective for many.  

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Resources

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“5 Meth Withdrawal Symptoms Users Experience.” Verywell Mind, www.verywellmind.com/what-to-expect-from-meth-withdrawal-22358.

“NPR Choice Page.” Npr.Org, 2019, www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/11/07/776135642/a-medication-to-treat-meth-addiction-some-take-a-new-look-at-naltrexone.

Ciccone, Alicia. “Naltrexone May Be Effective for Methamphetamine Addiction.” Neurology Advisor, 25 May 2015, www.neurologyadvisor.com/topics/general-neurology/naltrexone-may-be-effective-for-methamphetamine-addiction/. 

Related Pages

Crystal Meth: Side Effects, Addiction Symptoms & Risks

Signs of Meth Use

Crystal Meth: Side Effects, Addiction Symptoms & Risks

Meth Sores

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